2015/16 Record: 33-49 (Last in Central Division)
|Matthew Dellavedova||FA – 4yrs / $38mil|
|Mirza Teletovic||FA – 3yrs / $30mil|
|Steve Novak||FA – 1yr / $980k|
|Orlando Johnson||FA – 1 yr / $980k (Non-Guaranteed)|
|Thon Maker||DR – Pick #10|
|Malcolm Brogdon||DR – Pick #36|
|Jason Terry||FA – 1yr / $980k|
|J.J. O’Brien||FA – 1yr / $874k (Non-Guaranteed)|
|Jerryd Bayless||FA – 76ers|
|Damien Inglis||FA – Unsigned|
|OJ Mayo||Suspended – 2 years|
|Johnny O’Bryant||FA – Unsigned|
|Greivis Vasquez||FA – Nets|
Off Season Analysis:
The Bucks of 2015 looked like the Eastern Conference up and comers. Flanked with a PG playing out of his skin in Brandon Knight, the youth and potential of The Greek Freak and #2 overall pick Jabari Parker, plus the emergence of Kris Middleton; Milwaukee looked like a relevant team for the first time in years. However, once Parker did his ACL – management decided not to pay Brandon Knight and instead trade him to Phoenix (and in the process, on-forward the Lakers top 3 protected 1st rounder for Michael Carter-Williams of Philly). It seemed a strange move at the time and looks pretty horrible now. BK is no world beater but he’s a big combo guard who can defend and who would seem an ideal fit next to Giannis and the rest of the young core. The fact that Knight is a quality shooter also hurt, particular as it is something the 2016 Bucks team had precious little of.
The Bucks FO appears to have realised this wrong, and set about rectifying it in off-season 2016. You want some shooting? They loaded up on Mirza Teletovic for 3yrs and $30 million, who was underratedly fantastic for Phoenix last year. You want defensive tenacity? Add one of the most tenacious, under-your-skin-punch-you-in-the-face-if-you-weren’t-on-my-team guys in Matthew Dellavedova for 4yrs and $38 million. That’s a big commitment for a guy who couldn’t see the floor for Cleveland in the NBA Finals, but Delly would seem an ideal fit alongside the Bucks new lineup. You can already sense Jason Kidd is going to love him, and might even teach him a few sneaky tricks or two.
Delly’s familarity with playing with a physical freak like Lebron James can only be a positive thing when he lines up alongside Giannis Antetonkoupo this season. When it became obvious the Bucks were not going to make the playoffs last season, JKidd set about experimenting with his most talented youngster, and thrust him into the role of defacto point guard for much of the seasons second half. While Giannis doesn’t possess the natural vision of James (who does?), the proof is in the baklava:
As you can see, pretty much all major stats for Giannis went up when cast as the point guard, or point forward if you will. Most surprising was that the additional responsibility didn’t lend itself to considerably more turnovers, and he remained efficient from the field. Based on this sample size of 28 games – you would expect Giannis to battle Russell Westbrook for most triple doubles next season, and his development is one of the big reasons to keep an eye on Milwaukee this year.
The other big reason is Jabari Parker. Now in his third year, and healthy following his ACL tear in his rookie season – Parker really hit his straps around midseason in 2016. After looking a so-so fit alongside Greg Monroe, Kidd made the change to start defensive minded Miles Plumlee at the 5 and the results for Parker’s game were instant. Again, if we look at the pre/post All-Star break stats for Parker – you’ll see a similar trend:
Parker is a seriously talented forward who can score in a variety of ways. He has a really good crossover and first step for a big, and has a bit of awkard ‘herky-jerkyness’ to his game that will cause plenty of trouble for opposing 4 men. He needs to continue to work on his outside J, as that will only make his paint attacks more damaging – and the ACL tear doesn’t appear to have limited his explosiveness.
As an Australian following the NBA, I always had a soft spot for the Bucks after having drafted Andrew Bogut at #1 and having him on the team all those years. They have now added Boomer’s hearthrob Delly to their roster to deepen the ties, and most excitedly, surprising (and also costly for yours truly) they added another Aussie in the form of prep phenom Thon Maker to their roster. Maker has a really unique story. The interviews that I’ve watched show a kid whose been through a lot to get here and is willing to work extra hard to realise his dream.
While you can definitely make the case the Bucks reached at picking the untried Maker at #10, realistically the draft pool thinned out considerably from 9 to around 35. Why not take the punt on the highest ceiling / highest bust player in the draft? He’s the perfect compliment to the existing army of long winged players the Bucks just love and once he fills his frame out a bit, he should be able to play the 5 spot in many Bucks lineups. Maker showed quite a bit in his first competitive matchups in Summer League and while I don’t think he will make the impact a guy like Porzingis made last season, he would be the perfect player for Thon to watch tape on to see how he became effective in spite of his skinny frame as a rookie.
My biggest concern right now for the Bucks lies with Greg Monroe. It was a huge boon for Milwaukee to lure Monroe from the Pistons to the Bucks and he was rightfully paraded around as a cornerstone for this franchise to build around. However the fit really has just been poor from the start. I don’t mind Monroe as a player, in the right system and fit he could be a really useful player – but the way the Bucks are presently constructed and will be constructed going forward, is to maximise the talents of Parker and Giannis. In doing so, you can’t be going to post touches for Monroe all the time and leaving these 2 as spot up jump shooters – that’s not their strength, and it is largely what caused the Bucks to have a down year in 2016.
The shift of a defensive Center into the starting lineup is what this team needs, and I still can’t figure out why Kidd won’t utilise the strengths of John Henson, who is an elite shotblocker and would be a great foil for Parker and Giannis. He also has the ptearodactyl wingspan that would make this team a nightmare to score on – alas, the Bucks have committed strongly to Plumlee – who signed a 4yr $52 million dollar deal to stay with Milwaukee. I get that Center’s were getting paid Mozmoney this off-season, but it’s still a considerable investment for a guy who is inferior to Henson in basically every way.
On the whole, I’m pretty comfortable with what Milwaukee has done this off-season to ensure they get a playoff spot in a pretty open Eastern Conference. By adding the necessary shooting around their core players, they should be in the fight for the 5th to 8th seed, which continues their upward trajectory that was missplaced last season. This Bucks team is starting to learn their identity, and if they can fully harness and utilise their potential…they could cause some real headaches for their Eastern rivals.
2016/17 Prediction: 45-37
League Pass Meter: 8/10
Giannis as the psuedo PG will be really neat, the ongoing development of Parker and the occasional glimpse of THON should make the Bucks a League Pass favourite.
*Salary likely guarantees 10th Jan 2017.
Salary Cap Situation:
2016/17 Salaries: $99,639,140
2017/18 Salaries: $63,634,992
2018 2nd (DAL)
2020 2nd (WAS)
2019 2nd (PHI or SAC)
Can The Greek Freak take the next leap?
Is Jabari Parker ready to cement himself as a top flight Forward in the NBA?
Is Delly capable of being a starter in the NBA?
When will Moose Monroe be traded, and who wants him in the new NBA?
Which Center earns Kidd’s trust first?